Democrat Party Chairman Mehmet Ağar regrets not supporting the AK Party by joining a parliamentary vote in April to elect Turkey's next president, reported the Hürriyet daily's editor in chief, Ertuğrul Özkök, in his column yesterday.
Opposition parties in Parliament had all refused to participate in the elections or back the AK Party's presidential candidate, FM Abdullah Gül, resulting in an insufficient number of legislators, according to a quorum ruling by the Constitutional Court.
Özkök had a phone conversation on Tuesday with Ağar, who resigned from his party's leadership after the DP's election failure. It was reported that the former DP leader confessed that not participating in the presidential vote was a big "mistake" for the DP.
"The voters didn't like that attitude. It was a mistake we were unable to repair throughout the entire election campaign and the result is obvious. I didn't even need 24 hours to think [before resignation]. If this is what the nation wants, there is no sense standing in the way of it," Ağar was quoted by Özkök.
Ağar's DP got 5.6 percent of the vote, falling short of overcoming the 10 percent threshold necessary for political parties to get into Parliament. "I had vowed to quit if I failed in the elections. I kept my promise," Ağar was also quoted as saying.
Özkök wrote that Ağar received a phone call from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who expressed regret that the DP did poorly in the election. "It was too early, you did not deserve this," Erdoğan told Ağar, according to Özkök's account.
Ağar and the DP
Just a few hours after the preliminary results of the elections begin to filter into the DP headquarters, Mehmet Ağar stepped down as the chairman of the party due to the low support his party received at the polls.
"I hereby resign from my office as chairman of the Democrat Party. I respectfully inform the public and my colleagues, who have set their hearts on the [success of the] Democrat Party, of my resignation," he said in a short statement read by the party's press officer, Necmi Hatipoğlu. His action came as little surprise after his frequent statements during election campaigning indicating he would "do what should be done" in the event of failure. Deputy Chairman Nüzhet Kandemir also followed his Ağar's lead.
Some party members attributed the defeat to an unfortunately deputy candidate selection process. The party's candidates suffered material losses and the central management did not transfer much-needed funds to local organizations, some party supporters claimed.
Deputy Chairman Mümtaz Yavuz, in charge of local organizations, also resigned from office. "Mehmet Ağar left the Democrat Party in ruins," Yavuz said, adding: "Unfair and corrupt practices were seen in the candidate selection process."
The election defeat and ensuing resignations have left supporters uncertain about the future of the DP, especially as more resignations are likely and change is certain. Under the party's bylaws the DP's Central Decision Board (MKK) and Central Executive Board (GİK) will convene and authorize a party member as representative. A subsequent extraordinary party congress will be held within 45 days.
Hours after the preliminary results were announced, aspirants for the chairman's post started to emerge. Ümmet Kandoğan, let go from the party because he broke with party policy and attended the presidential election vote, stated he would run for the office. "I said earlier that Ağar would have to leave his post on the night of July 22. These events have proven me right," he said.
Another name likely to emerge as a candidate for the post is former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller. After the DP's predecessor, the True Path Party (DYP), was closed down to facilitate a merge with the Motherland Party (ANAVATAN), Çiller's supporters reopened the DYP and invited her to lead. The former premier had told them to wait for the election results and is now expected to run for the DP leadership.